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HIV - A reportable infection

HIV is a reportable infection. This means that if an HIV test is positive, the result is reported to public health so that staff can provide support to the person and keep track of the number of new HIV infections in their region. Any person having an HIV test can choose at the time of testing how a positive result is reported to public health. If the test is negative, the result is not reported to public health.

If a person tests positive for HIV, a health care provider will ask about previous partners. This is to let partners know that they may have come in contact with HIV and to offer testing. This is called partner notification and it is voluntary.

There are a couple of ways that partner notification can be done:

  • The person who has HIV can contact partners
  • A health care provider or a public health nurse can contact partners on their behalf without revealing the person’s identity.

HIV Testing and Reporting

You have a few choices when you get an HIV test:

  • You can use your full name and give a way to be reached (address, phone number, email). If positive, your result is reported to public health using your name and contact information. This is called nominal reporting.
  • You can test using your full name and give your contact information to your health care provider, but ask that the test be reported to public health without using your name. Your provider will indicate this on the laboratory form. If positive, your result is reported to public health using your initials, and no contact information is shared. This is called non-nominal reporting.

Some clinics offer other options for HIV testing:

  • At some public health clinics, you can test under an alias or use your initials, and give a way to be reached. If positive, your result is reported to public health using your initials or alias and no contact information is shared.
  • Some clinics also allow you to test using a numbered code and give no contact information. If positive, your result is reported to public health using the numbered code only. This is called anonymous testing. Anonymous HIV testing is currently being offered at a limited number of sites in BC. If you are interested in having an anonymous HIV test, visit the Clinic Finder and select Anonymous HIV Testing from the "Offering This Service" drop-down menu.

Not all health care providers or clinics offer all HIV testing options. Before testing, talk to your health care provider about your choices so you can decide the best option for you.

No matter what option you choose, all HIV testing in British Columbia is confidential. If your HIV test is positive then support and treatment are available for you.

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